Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Ný Batterí

590 words on

It’s the 21st century. And thus having an Apple product isn’t quite the full experience if it doesn’t need any fixing. Luckily my MacBook’s charger started flickering in December, so it looked like there was hope for some part of the machine being broken. And indeed that flicker became a regular thing to happen after charging had finished in the following weeks. Because I had problems with my iBook charger last year (and with the Powerbook charger preceding it, if you must know), I wasn’t completely surprised by Apple shipping chargers with a short life-expectancy.

However, this wasn’t the only problem. And the other one, while being rarer, was much worse: I had two or three occurrences of the computer just shutting itself off unexpectedly when running low on battery. I only witnessed one of those ‘live’ and the others happened while I wasn’t there but essentially it seemed like the machine would just lose power before it even realised it was running so low on battery that it should shut down.

So I went to the local Mac store (being amazed how many people come in there considering this is a small clueless town) and discussed the problem with them. They suggested we discharge both mine and one of their MacBooks a little and then recharge them with the charger belonging to the other MacBook to determine whether it’s the computer or the charger that caused the flickering. And after an endless wait – those last percentage points of charging the battery do take ages – we found that my charger was fine. So my initial theory was false.

The next best guess – keeping the power losses I had in mind – was that there’s something fishy with the battery. So they ordered a replacement battery which I got today and which is doing fine so far (not that I expected anything else, the old battery only started acting up after a few months). In total, this replacement was quite painless thanks to the local store where I could speak to actual people who seem to know what they are doing rather than having to deal with some AppleCare support-bots who proved to be unhelpful, clueless or even lying in the past. Let’s hope that this really does solve the problem.

When turning off the machine there to exchange the batteries, I was once more amazed of OS X’s slow shut down process. The shut down can be fast but after having used the machine for some days, accumulating a few gigabytes of swap files by running memory hungry applications (iPhoto, Parallels, Sandvox) it can take several minutes before OS X gets its act together and shuts down. Similarly, starting the machine up takes ages: While the ‘formal’ startup is quick, I can’t use the machine immediately afterwards. First I need to log in (and Apple really should do some better caching to ensure I get an immediate and smooth animation of the login dialogue between selecting my account and typing in the password) and then I need to launch the basic stock of applications I want to use. Even with an AppleScript that I made to keep OS X from launching all of them simultaneously, the machine still needs another few minutes to get everything running. And during that time it’s not particularly usable either as it’s in disk thrashing hell.

OK, now go and enjoy the music! Just don’t get it from iTunes to avoid pain and suffering from their typo ridden song database.

January 11, 2007, 1:46

Tagged as hardware.

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